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2 Jun 2023


‘Respect existence or expect resistance’: Protests in Norway against wind farm on Sami land

In Norway, Indigenous Sami protest outside prime minister's office against Europe's largest onshore wind farm

Dozen of activists, including Indigenous Sami, protested outside the office of Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on Friday. 

They vowed to block entry to remind Norway's government that they want a wind farm removed because they say it endangers the reindeer herders’ way of life.

In February, the same human rights activists occupied the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy for four days, and later also blocked the entrances to 10 ministries. 

The Norwegian government then apologized for failing to act despite a Supreme Court ruling in favour of the Sami, and Gahr Støre also acknowledged “ongoing human rights violations.”

Why are Sami protesting in Norway?

“We were promised a change. We were promised that our human rights would be respected. Yet nothing has happened for almost 100 days” since Gahr Støre said the government would do something, activist Elle Nystad told Norwegian news agency NTB on Friday.

“We will not give up until the wind turbines on Fosen are demolished and the land is returned to reindeer herders,” said another activist, Elle Ravdna Nakkalajarvi.

The activists plan to sleep outside the prime minister's office until Saturday — the 600th day since a Supreme Court ruling said the wind farm was violating the rights of the Sami. They said they had brought chains to link themselves.

"Respect existence or expect resistance."

At the centre of the dispute are 151 turbines at Europe’s largest onshore wind farm in the Fosen district, about 450 kilometres north of Oslo. 

Norway’s Supreme Court ruled in October 2021 that the construction of the turbines had violated the rights of the Sami, who have used the land for reindeer for centuries.

Green energy should not come at the expense of Indigenous communities

The wind turbines are still operating. The activists say a transition to green energy shouldn't come at the expense of the rights of Indigenous people.

Some were seen sitting in front of the gate to the prime minister's office, and activists put up tents used by the Indigenous people, who mostly live in the Arctic, in a nearby park.

The activists, many dressed in traditional Sami garments, had started the day by standing along the road leading up to the Norwegian royal palace. Dark cars, thought to be carrying members of the government, drove past the protesters.

The government officials were attending a regular briefing of the Norwegian monarch, which is a formality. After the Council of State meeting, Gahr Støre met with some of the activists and told them “I want to tell you that the matter is not at rest.”

As they marched through downtown Oslo to the building housing the prime minister’s office, some demonstrators waved the Sami flag, while others held banners — one of them reading “Respect existence or expect resistance.”

Part of the following timelines

Norway: Govt. and Sámi reach agreement to end the 3-year dispute over wind farm after Supreme Court ruling it violates their rights; incl. company responses

Fosen Vind and others lawsuit (re wind farm impact on Sámi People, Norway)